Affidavit: St. Peter bowling alley owner admitted to accidentally starting fire
The owner of a St. Peter bowling alley that was destroyed by a fire last month allegedly admitted to accidentally starting the fire.
According to a search warrant application, St. Peter police and firefighters responded to a reported fire at KingPins Bowling Alley, located at 1671 South Third Street, at about 7:35 a.m. Feb. 16. When authorities arrived, the building was almost fully engulfed in flames.
The affidavit says nearly the entire building was burned with only a small area on the north side still standing after the fire was extinguished.
After the fire was out, a fire investigator noticed one of the 12 pin setting machines was more oxidized than the others, which led him to believe it was the ignition location for the fire, the affidavit states. After testing the machine several times, he found a significant level of an accelerant odor each time. He also found several canisters of flammable liquids behind the pin setter, which he believed were used for oiling and maintaining the bowling lanes. At least one of those canisters appeared to have been open at the time of the fire.
The bowling alley's owner, 47-year-old Dwight Lee Selders, told investigators that pin setter had mechanical issues that he'd tried to repair the night before the fire, the affidavit says.
In another meeting with investigators 11 days later, Selders said he'd accidentally caused the fire. The affidavit states Selders said he was working on the pin setter with a torch when he accidentally started a towel or cloth on fire. At the time, the towel was inside a bucket that contained other towels covered in flammable material.
Selders said he saw the fire and panicked, leaving the area and then the building. He also allegedly told authorities he saw a "glow" behind the pin setters as he left, but was panicking, adding that he didn't know why he didn't try to put out the fire or call 911.
The affidavit states Selder denied putting any accelerant on the floor or anywhere else to help the fire spread, and denied starting the fire intentionally.
The investigation is still active.